Monday, April 29, 2013

Piano Guys in Mongolia?

Well, not exactly.  We were walking one day by the Soyombo theater in Ulaanbaatar.  The owner was playing Youtube videos on the advertisement screen.  Guess what we saw!  The Piano Guys.  It was the video where Jon Schmidt and company were playing a song together on one piano.  It was crazy!

Anyway, I'm finally able to send some photos of our excursion to the Chinggis Khaan statue.  We got to walk out on top of Chinggis's head (about 13 stories above a 4 story building).  It was pretty cool.  It is such a new site that it isn't finished yet.  They plan to add a few hundred life-size horses and warriors on the lawn surrounding the monument.

I feel very fortunate to be here for many reasons.  I learned that a group of missionaries called to Mongolia last summer were not able to get visas.  They are still serving in an alternate mission.  In fact, our group was the first to have received permission to enter since February 2012.

The members of the Church here are awesome!  Most are first generation members, but some of the missionaries were baptized when they were 8 or 9.  So we are getting to the point where many adult members have been active most of their lives.  Their knowledge of the doctrine is deep, and they adapt to the Gospel culture very well.

April 19, 2013 was a great day to get baptized

Chinggis Khaan can't even see tiny Greg from his perch
Greg interacts with a display of future horsemen at the Chinggis Khaan statue

This is ... fun?  That eagle looks hungry.

Those are yaks back there

Tally Ho!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Field Trip P-Day

On Friday, April 19, we had three baptisms!  These were great investigators, now members of the Church.  My companion performed two baptisms and I performed one.  It was the birthday for one of the converts.  It was a great day.  We are working with new investigators and hoping to help them progress in the Gospel.

Today we had a field trip to see the Chinggis Khaan statue.  I also rode a camel and held an eagle!  I'd like to send pictures, but sending photos from here is hard.  I'll try maybe next week or as soon as possible to send a photo or two.

Last week was the 20th anniversary of the Church in Mongolia, and there were a lot of celebrations throughout the week.  It was really fun, but we are looking forward to getting back to our regular missionary work.

Fun fact:  For various reasons, the mission district I am in extends from the capital all the way out west to Khovd, where two sister missionaries are stationed.  So, my district is in more than one time zone!

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Cold Does Things to You

It snowed again today.  Hooray!  Is it spring in America?  I think this is the land of everlasting winter.

But we have great investigators and are getting new ones, so that's all good.  We were able to watch General Conference this weekend.  I liked President Packer's poem about old age.  I reflected on the fact that he was doing at 80 what some people do at 60.  It showed to me that if we continue to serve others diligently, even through trials or difficulties, the Lord will bless us with strength beyond our own.

I also liked Elder Holland's talk and the one by President Monson in the Priesthood session.  Conference made me think about what needs to happen in Mongolia and my part in it as a missionary.  

Teaching English is going okay.  I'm getting better at it.  It takes a lot of time to prepare for my classes, and it is a challenge to plan the lessons.  I may have a lot of linguistic knowledge, but teaching these classes is a different experience.  

Just so you don't think I am always eating sheep head, we do cook for ourselves when we can.  We don't have an oven, so that limits us to a pan, but we do combine pasta with chicken and vegetables like peppers, mushroom, onions, and the like.  It's really good.  We can also get decent store bought bread and German muesli, so we eat fairly well.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Scotland has nothing on Mongolia

The Scots might like their haggis, but now I have also eaten something in a sheep's stomach.  And on top of that, I've eaten boiled sheep's head.  It is actually quite a delicacy, and it was an honor to be served it.  Still, it was interesting to watch our host cut off sheep cheek and serve it to us, along with the ears, neck, palate, and tongue.  It was actually pretty good.

I have been eating German m├╝sli for breakfast every morning.  It's great! I prefer the mix with dried fruit over the nutty stuff, but it is all really tasty.

Not that I am fixated on food.  I just know people will wonder what I eat.  As for everything else, teaching English is stressful but getting better.  Our mission is growing.  There aren't very many Americans in our mission, but we are told we will be getting another 18 over the next 9 months due to the rise in missionaries around the world.  That's great!

We are looking forward to some baptisms later this month.  The ward I serve in is about the same size as my home ward; it is a really good ward.

The work is good, the weather is cold, the Church is true, and I'm doing well.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Red Egg Day

Happy Easter!

Mongolians call Easter Red Egg Day, from a Russian tradition.  But they don't really celebrate Easter here.  The Church usually calls it "Christ's Resurrection Holiday."

I began teaching my English class.  It was fun.  And kind of hard.  Two 90-minute classes in a row are tough.  But I'm figuring out what I need to do to keep the class interesting and useful.

We have 3 baptisms or so lined up for the 19th, which is the 20th anniversary of the Church in Mongolia.

Greg approves of our cooking